INTRODUCTION
        To begin our extended inquiry into the subject of church, let us consider the nature of a church and the question of the value of a church.  Why should we feel that "something" that is unseen by any of our earthly senses deserves our attention, adoration and love?  Other members of the animal kingdom roam at their leisure, do their own thing and eventually disappear from materiality.  Why should the human animal be any different?
        Humanity is different because that species came into being for a different purpose.  It really doesn't matter when or where or how that "coming into being" occurred but there is no doubt it did occur because we are here.  It should be quite obvious that at some point  and at some place within materiality the first of the species somehow suddenly appeared from nothing - even it were only a single cell.  Since the event was supernatural in a very special sense, it really doesn't matter if it was a single cell that developed or if it was a completed human at the start.  If the power of God is enough to do either one, then that power can do either at the start.
        Before Abraham [about 2100 BC], there were ages of humanity that have been recorded at least back to about 5000 BC.  Archaeologists today are continuing to find older artifacts and we can only speculate about the unrecorded years before 5000 BC.  In any case, it had to start sometime and it had to start from nothing of a material nature.  Otherwise, from whence came that very first material object - the elements of an atom?
        The earliest of humanity had an inherent awareness of that which we call God.  In fact, as the story is told in Genesis (in my opinion, in parables as used by Jesus in his teaching), the first of humanity knew God face-to-face in the Garden of Eden.  There are two versions of creation in Genesis [1:1-2:4a and 2:4b-25].  But that intimate relationship with God was marred when humanity, with its free will, disobeyed God's command and they were turned over to the world at large.  From that moment, in the deepest recesses of the human spirit, there was an awareness and a longing to find that love, peace, protection and divinity of the earlier condition.  We have naturally been seeking it ever since; from the most "uncivilized" natives to the most "distinguished" scholars.  I can recall during the loneliness of childhood when someone would say:  "God loves you."  A profound truth but invisible to my young eyes.  My response was always:  "But I can not see God, I can not hug God, I can not kiss God to share his love.  Where is he?"
        Yes, there had to be a God - or was it plural gods?  If plural, who was the chief god?  Lore of old told of gods fighting each other.  What if the chief god was killed?  With all that fighting and disagreement, did that mean that the gods were of the material world?  Some decided to play it safe and have many gods; one for each possible need.  Such was the case, for example, in Greece during Paul's journeys.  Paul played it safe also.  He told the Greeks that their "unknown god," to whom they had erected an altar, was the one great God that he had come to tell them about [Acts 17:22-25].  But when did this idea of a One all powerful, ever present and eternal God begin, and why?
        By Chapter 4 of Genesis, the first of humanity [Adam and Eve] were expelled from Eden.  The first two offspring of Adam and Eve were their sons, Cain and Abel, and the first recorded murder in history occurred when  Cain killed Abel because of jealousy of God's favor. Cain feared for his life but the LORD said to him. "If anyone kills Cain, Cain shall be avenged sevenfold." So the LORD put a mark on Cain, lest anyone should kill him at sight. [Genesis 4:15]   God marked Cain for his protection [maybe a tattoo or what we now call a birthmark] and banished him to "the land of Nod" - not a specific geographic site but to a nomadic life [Genesis 4:1-16].  Adam and Eve had a third son, Seth, and we are told that "At that time men began to invoke the Lord by name."
        Cain's descendants are traced from his son, Enoch, to the two wives of Lamech, Adah and Zillah.  Adah bore Jabal [ancestor of those who dwell in tents and keep cattle] and Jubal [ancestor of all who play the lyre and the pipe].  Zillah bore Tubalcain [ancestor of those who forge instruments of bronze and iron].  Thus ends the Bible's information about Cain.
       Genealogy is  traced from Seth to Noah's son, Shem, a period of some 1500 years [according to Genesis] through another long period of time to Terah, the father of Abram [Abraham]. All the while gods were being "found" by many to be worshipped for materialistic and physical reasons; some were human [such as the Egyptian Pharaohs] and some were imagined [such as separate deities of the heavens, the air and the earth]  [Genesis 4:17 through 11].  The belief in multiple gods abounded in many areas, even to modern time.  However, the seed of memory in humanity still sought that divine unity which had been lost in antiquity.
ABRAM LEAVES THE ANCIENT CITY OF UR
       Both Abram and his father, Terah, were born in the ancient [3000 year history] city of Ur of the Chaldeans which was on the south banks of the Euphrates River in the general vicinity of An-Nasiriyah in Iraq about 100 miles northwest of present day Kuwait.  Around the year 2100 BC, Terah left Ur taking with him Abram and Abram's wife, Sarai (Sarah), and his grandson, Lot, son of his son, Haran who and died earlier. They migrated some 1000 miles northwest up the Euphrates beyond what is now Baghdad to Haran south of Urfa, Turkey, just north of the Syrian border.  Abram remained in Haran until, one day, "The Lord said to Abram: 'Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk and from your father's house to a land that I will show you.' " [Genesis 12:1]
GOD'S CALL TO ABRAHAM
by Nathan [February 1999]